ANAHEIM -- John Danks' fourth Minor League rehab start and third with Triple-A Charlotte ended Saturday night in Buffalo after 4 2/3 innings and 95 pitches, of which 51 were strikes.
Danks struck out five and allowed two earned runs on two hits. Despite his wildness, walking the based loaded in the fifth and finishing with four free passes overall, this figures to be his last Minor League appearance.
A big league comeback from season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Aug. 6 of last season would be complete with what would most likely be a start Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field against the Marlins. Either Hector Santiago, Saturday's starter here, or Dylan Axelrod would then move into the bullpen in a long-relief role. Axelrod is scheduled to start Monday at home against the Red Sox.
Manager Robin Ventura said Saturday that a six-man rotation briefly was discussed, but that option was not the chosen one. The same goes for splitting the fifth-starter spot between Santiago and Axelrod depending on matchups.
"It's not an easy decision," Ventura said. "But you look at it and weigh it and go from there."
Ventura isn't worried about having four left-handers in the rotation with Jake Peavy if Santiago gets the nod.
"That one is more how good they are," Ventura said. "They're all a little different, so that part doesn't bother me. They're good, first. And then we'll worry about with what hand they throw.
"I've seen teams in the past that have had many lefties in the rotation, but they were good. It's different. You see it around the league because you don't see lefties that are all that good in the same rotation."
Dunn leaves midgame with back spasms, is day to day
ANAHEIM -- If Adam Dunn has his way, he'll be back in the White Sox lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Angels.
But after leaving in the fifth inning of Saturday's 12-9 loss to the Angels with back spasms, Dunn's status stands at a firm day to day.
"It's just more treating it and making sure everything is all right," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who knows Dunn's desire to stay on the field, even if it means playing through pain. "As of right now, it's day to day.
"Just watching him on the field, he had done something. I don't know exactly when he did it. We were watching him at first and he couldn't move around very well. When he came in, he just wasn't moving around too good. It just tightened up on him."
Dunn explained that he was stretching his hamstrings in the on-deck circle before a two-run single during a four-run fourth, just as he does before every at-bat, and something grabbed in his back when he came up.
"When I got on first, I never really had muscle spasms before, so I really didn't know what it was," Dunn said. "But Paulie [Konerko] hit the ball and I almost fell down running to second.
"What I was really worried about was defense. I couldn't go down. It wasn't too bad going side to side, but going down to getting a ground ball would have been very tough."
The hope from Dunn, who still felt the back soreness after extensive in-game treatment, is that the muscle releases and he can get back on the field. Dunn is 8-for-22 with 10 RBIs on the road trip.
Hitting coach always had faith in players
ANAHEIM -- The .299 average posted by the White Sox over the last five games, to go with 25 runs scored, was a welcome sight for Jeff Manto.
To be honest, the always-optimistic White Sox hitting coach never had a doubt his group would come around. He also understands that when an offense goes stagnant, the job that Paul Konerko once referred to as the toughest one in all of sports always gets the blame.
"Guess what? That's what I signed up for," said Manto with a smile. "You give these players everything you got every day. They have the information. But at the end of the day, I'm responsible.
"It comes with the territory. We have a lot of good players, and I knew that this was definitely going to turn around."
Having veteran hitters such as Konerko, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, to name a few, helped strengthen that confidence for Manto, who admitted there might be more concern if it was a youth-laden group. While Manto trusts such proven commodities, he still did whatever possible to help change the course of offensive failure.
Take Alexei Ramirez as an example. At one point during the early stages of May, Manto basically told the shortstop to hit the ball to the right side of the field for 25 or 30 straight at-bats. Even if he wasn't successful, Ramirez was being productive in his approach.
"Now, he's starting to get it, the hands are starting to work a lot better," said Manto of Ramirez. "We are going to learn how to make these outs.
"We know we are not feeling good so we are going to make these productive outs. Eventually we are going to start feeling better and balls will start getting into the gaps like Alexei."
Veal rejoins Sox to add options in bullpen
ANAHEIM -- A second left-handed reliever was added to the White Sox bullpen when Donnie Veal was called up from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Saturday afternoon's contest against the Angels. Veal, 28, took the spot of Deunte Heath, who was optioned to Charlotte following Friday's victory.
Veal posted a 1-0 record with a 4.26 ERA over 12 relief appearances after breaking camp with the White Sox but was optioned to Charlotte on May 1 when he struggled with control, especially on his out-pitch, the curveball. The White Sox hope the Veal who limited left-handed hitters to three hits in 32 at-bats last year is the pitcher who has rejoined the team.
"He went out and did it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Veal's Minor League adjustments, fanning 10 over eight scoreless innings. "I don't know if it's a reward, but you get him back as quick as you can because he's important.
"There are different spots in the game where it becomes important to be able to have them. I think even the way we've been using Matty [Thornton], it's one of those where you can do more than that, but you're saving him for that one tough at-bat against a lefty. Donnie, we've had good reports on him of getting his curve back and it's nice to have him back."
Thornton knows that the White Sox have a group of right-handed relievers who can handle left-handed hitters as well as right-handers. The veteran readily acknowledges that an effective Veal simply makes a strong bullpen unit even better.
Thornton has gone 11 straight appearances without allowing an earned run, partially because of changes in mechanics he made after watching video.
"Just a couple of tweaks that I saw. It wasn't anything major, crazy or an overhaul," Thornton said. "But just a couple of little things that I wasn't doing with my drive to the plate. Just made some adjustments and got the ball down in the zone.
"It was something I was worried about with balls up in the zone. I got it back down in the zone and the breaking ball has been better."
Sox view .500 as just a starting point
ANAHEIM -- After falling to a season-worst six games under .500, the White Sox are making a run back to the break-even point. That .500 mark is just a starting stage, according to Jake Peavy, who takes the mound in Sunday's series finale here.
"We have a long way to go to be who we want to be," Peavy said. "But it's nice to get things started in the right direction."
Peavy believes that the White Sox were never as bad as portrayed through the first six weeks, despite what the record and, at times, the on-field play was showing.
"People just acted like we were the worst team in the world and we were in every one of those games," Peavy said. "We just couldn't make a play or make a pitch or catch the ball. We were always just on the wrong end of things.
"You believe in your talent and you believe that we were good enough to clean up the small things that we felt were costing us games. We didn't hit that much. When you don't score many runs, you look flat. You get talked about without a whole lot of energy. We just collectively kind of went through a slump."
Third to first
• Chris Sale's 10-game winning streak is the longest among active pitchers against the AL West. He became the second pitcher in baseball history to win his first 10 career decisions vs. the West, joining Dock Ellis (1976-77), according to STATS.
• Jesse Crain's 16 straight scoreless appearances to start the season have covered 14 2/3 innings.
• Reliever Nate Jones went beyond his baseball duties pregame Friday when he took part in a cow-milking contest. Jones watched how to milk cows when he was younger during school field trips, but his second-place finish to the Angels' Ryan Brasier in Friday's competition at Angel Stadium marked his first hands-on experience.
"I felt like I was doing good, but just good enough for second place," said Jones with a laugh, adding that his job was made more difficult by the cow moving in the early milking stages. "I felt like I was getting milk every squeeze. Apparently it wasn't good enough."